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John Winn

Birthplace: Rockcreek, Bedford, Tennessee, USA
Death: Died in Richfield, Sevier, Utah, USA
Place of Burial: Richfield City Cemetery, Richfield, Sevier, Utah, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Minor Winn and Nancy Winn
Husband of Laney Ann Adair; Mary Jane Akes; Julia Ann Akes; Elizabeth Caroline Winn and Eliza Ann Case - Winn
Father of Mary Jane Winn; Martha Jane Nebeker; Sarah Isabell Stephens; John William Winn; Olive Caroline Gee and 4 others
Brother of Thomas Green Winn

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John Winn

Son of Minor Winn and Nancy Wilson. Married - Julia Ann Akes, 7 Feb 1844, Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois. Children - Lucretia Christine Winn, James Thomas Winn, Mary Jane Winn, Minor Winn. Married - Elizabeth Caroline Pugh, 7 Mar 1857, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah. Childen - Nancy Melinda Winn, Martha Jane Winn, Charles Alma Winn, Elizabeth Artinza Winn, Melissa Ann Winn, Isaac Stewart Winn, John McCaslin Winn, Francis Shannon Winn, Joseph Ephriam Winn. Married - Eliza Ann Stephenson, 4 Oct 1862, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah. Children - Sarah Isabell Winn, Alice Eliza Winn, Marion Anderson Winn, John Wiliam Winn, Mary Elizabeth Winn, Benjamin Prior Winn, Olive Caroline Winn.

History - John Winn was born 29 Jan 1824 in Rockcreek, Tennessee, to Minor Winn and Nancy Wilson. The family came to Illinois in 1835. There he married Julia Ann Akes in 1844 in Nauvoo, Illinois, and came to the Salt Lake Valley as a pioneer in 1852 with his wife and four children. His second wife was Elizabeth Caroline Pugh and they had nine children. His third wife was Eliza Ann Stephenson and they had eight children. John moved his family and helped settle many areas of Utah. He was one of the pioneers of Iron County in 1850-1851. In 1879 the family moved to Battle Creek, Preston, Idaho, where he resided for 14 years. John Winn passed away in Richfield, Utah on 5 Feb 1899 at the age of 75.

An Enduring Legacy, Volume Seven, p. 344

Sometime before the year 1836, John Winn and Mary Jane Akers, who later became his wife, heard the gospel of Jesus Christ explained to them by the early missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and, being able to discern it as truth, were baptized. John Winn was twelve years old at the time and his father, Minor Winn, and his mother, Nancy Wilson Winn, also accepted the teachings.

The Winn family had withstood many harrowing experiences prior to the time they reached Nauvoo, Illinois, which had become the center of the Mormon Church in the early 1840s. It was here that the Saints had erected their second temple. Nauvoo, reclaimed from the swamplands of the Mississippi River, was a flourishing city at that time. The people called it the "City Beautiful," at that time the largest city in the state of Illinois.

Peace was not long to endure in this the homeland they had built and cherished. Their prophet and leader had been murdered by an angry mob and many different persons were presenting plans and attempting to take over the leadership. Of all the plans being presented, the one that stood out forcibly to John Winn was offered by James Emmett. His proposal was to leave Nauvoo and go to North Dakota where the government was opening up new lands for homesteading. Nothing had been said about breaking away from the Church, so the religious aspect would remain as it was and had been previously. It was presented purely as a homesteading venture. Everyone who had accepted seemed agreed to this.

Minor Winn reluctantly bade his son farewell, while his mother and his brothers and sisters begged him to reconsider and stay in Nauvoo. His mother said she felt certain a decision would be made soon by the apostles of the Church and everyone would be advised what to do, but this action was too slow and uncertain for her impatient son.

When Captain James Emmett's wagon train pulled out of Nauvoo, John Winn and his lovely wife were among the group. As they journeyed into the wilderness, the jovial attitude of Captain Emmett seemed to change, and he became more demanding. John was traveling in the company with a cousin, James Wilson, who had also consented to go, along with his young wife. They were about the same age as John and Mary Jane. After they had traveled several days, John was ordered by Captain Emmett to give up one of his two yoke of oxen that they might be used by some of the less fortunate members of the company. This order was taken in good faith by John and he obeyed it willingly. He was an unselfish man, always ready to help someone less fortunate than he.

According to persons who knew the history of this trek, Emmett favored a few friends who did not have the equipment to make this hazardous journey to begin with.

After John's oxen had been taken from him and the company had settled down to the trek, Captain Emmett issued orders that all rations would have to be cut in order for the company to survive the long journey. They had only traveled a few more days when they were called together again and told all foodstuff and any other articles in short supply would have to be divided with the less fortunate members of the company. This last order didn't make sense to many of the people. It was true that some people in the company needed help, but the overall condition of the group was good. The supply wagons were loaded to the hilt. Nevertheless, they obeyed the order and again pushed forward during the waning days of the summer. The going was rough and difficult for both man and animal. A few days passed and the oxen, horses and other livestock were growing leg-weary and tired. Again Captain Emmett called them together. At this time he told them that a common commissary would be set up and that all foodstuff would be issued daily to the members. He had already cut their rations drastically, but now they were told that they would be allotted only three gill of corn a day per person. They had now pushed into wild country many miles from Nauvoo. At this time both men and beasts were tired and footsore and the heavy wagons were in need of repair, so the company was ordered to stop at a rest camp set up by the company scouts. Here they would stay several days to let all recuperate from their hard journey.

They were in Indian country now, probably in the southern regions of South Dakota, where the Sioux and the Potawatamie Indian tribes roamed in search of venison and buffalo. This was the tribal homeland of the migrant tribes of the prairie and the heart of a vast uncharted wilderness.

Guard mounts were now posted regularly as a protection against Indians and wild animals. The livestock was herded to keep them from straying or from being stolen, and good pasture had to be found. Every man took his turn as guard or herder.

When repairs were completed and the company was waiting for the cattle and horses to recover from their tender-footedness, John, who was young, lean, wiry and quick of mind, could see an opportunity to avail himself of some wild game to supplement their meager rations. So one early morning while most of the camp slept, John slipped out of bed quietly and went on a hunting trip, reporting to the guard before he left. He hadn't gone far when he flushed up some grouse. He was lucky enough to shoot one of these birds on the wing before they flew out of range. After working his way through the thick brush he saw a grove of trees ahead. While checking the trees he found one laden with good wild honey. Using a close-woven sack he had with him he took the honey, comb and all, and put it in the sack, packing it as solidly as he could. He then started back to camp with a song in his heart and with his feet scarcely touching the ground. The guard was only posted around the camp at night so as John came within a short distance of the camp, he was met by his wife, who had been watching for his return. Her pallor haunted him. She was half-starved and pregnant, her poor state of health caused by the inadequate diet ordered by Captain Emmett. The delicate condition of this woman was no concern to the captain, who held almost complete mastery over this little band of people. Emmett's only concern was having his orders obeyed to the very letter. So, as John and Mary Jane walked arm in arm to their covered wagon, something rebelled within John's mind. He knew that this unrighteous treatment was unnecessary. The captain must have some ulterior motive for the inhuman treatment they were receiving. But what to do about it was troubling him, for they were now in dire circumstances. He wondered about the honey as he laid it inside his wagon, but his primary concern was his wife, who was now only a shadow compared to the girl he had married a short time before.

The captain had become an inconsiderate dictator. He was not only dictating their rate of travel, their rations and their camp life in general, he was now trying to run every other phase of their lives. They had found him to be a hard, cruel taskmaster now that he had them beyond the point of no return. They were all in poor, deplorable condition. Other Mormon companies would have leaders who had good relations with their people, who were kind and considerate to the persons in their charge. Such was not the case with this company.

At supper that night, John and Mary Jane invited Jim Wilson and his wife over to share the corn bread and honey on the menu. They spent a joyous time together as they ate their simple meal that night. John had turned the wild grouse over to the commissary, in all likelihood to be divided with the leaders of the group, who were well fed while the rest of the group were pitifully malnourished.

The next morning all Hades broke loose, for in some manner Captain Emmett had heard that John Winn and his guests had dined on honey the night before, so he made it his business to investigate. No authority had been delegated to him to pry into the personal affairs of the company, so his actions far exceeded his authority. He immediately ordered John Winn's possessions searched and when it was found that they still had honey in their possession, he acted like a maniac. A "kangaroo court" was held, with himself the sole judge. John Winn was convicted of a felony, and the sentence passed upon him was death before a firing squad. He was to pay the supreme sacrifice for a trumped-up charge only a madman was capable of executing.

Captain Emmett had a son in the company and when a firing squad was chosen, it consisted of only his son. John was marched out to a secluded spot a short distance from the camp to the place picked for his execution. Young Emmett was handed a rifle after John was placed on the spot designated by the captain. At this point John was asked if he wanted a blindfold placed over his eyes. This he refused. Then young Emmett was ordered to carry on. He brought the rifle up to his shoulder and took deliberate aim at John's heart. Then suddenly he lowered the gun and turned to his father and asked, "Shall I shoot him, Father?" To this Captain Emmett is reported to have said, "Do as you please, my son."

When it seemed that neither young Emmett or his father had sufficient nerve to carry out the order, John reached up with both hands, jerked his shirt open to expose his bare chest, and bellowed, "Shoot, you cowardly rats; I dare you to!"

John's action and their lack of action put the captain in a very poor bargaining position. So, to save face he altered the sentence. He ordered that John Winn and his wife, Mary Jane, and John's cousin, Jim Wilson, and his wife be left on the Plains afoot, with only the clothes they stood up in. Their teams, wagons and all their personal belongings were to be confiscated by the company. There was one exception to this complete confiscation, and that happened when someone in the company started to take Mary Jane's unborn baby's clothing. It is said she fought like a tiger and was able to keep them. When the wagon train left the campsite and headed toward North Dakota, four lonely souls were left to perish in this vast wilderness. It isn't recorded how many days they were without food and shelter. However, on one occasion when they were given to earnest prayer, the little group arose from their knees and saw on the horizon a band of migrating Indians. Their ponies were stirring up quite a little dust as they came along the trail. A quick decision had to be made. They had only one alternative to starvation and that was to risk being scalped by those Indians. According to John, there was only one conclusion. After giving a few brief instructions, he took off on a run, yelling at the top of his voice and waving his hat, hoping to be seen and heard. He was soon able to attract the attention of the Indians, and as they came to a stop, Jim Wilson caught up with him, having left the women behind with instructions not to follow but to keep hidden until they could determine whether the Indians were friendly. John and Jim approached the Indian horsemen now waiting for them. The Indians were ready for any eventuality, with rifles and bows in hand, ready for quick action if the occasion warranted it. The Indian women and children moved ahead while the warriors waited in silence.

As the two white men approached to within rifle range, two young braves slid easily from their horses with rifles in hand and came cautiously out to meet them. It must have been a strange sight for the Indians to see two unarmed white men, gaunt and hollow-eyed, approaching them on foot. The two braves met the daring but foolish white men a short distance from where the main body of the tribe was waiting. John and his cousin were quickly searched and then one of the braves began to question them in broken English. Who were they, where were they from and who sent them? After the two white men had answered to the best of their ability, they asked to see the chief.

The old chief had already dismounted and was standing alone a short distance from the tribe, waiting patiently to see what the two white men would do next. He studied them intently as they were herded toward him at the point of a gun. The old chief then called the young brave who spoke English to his side, while the other one remained at his station guarding the two men. John and Jim realized they were in a very precarious situation. Suddenly the old chief began to speak, directing his remarks to the young warrior who was now at his side. He spoke in the Sioux tribal language and the young Indian listened intently, giving all his attention to the instructions he was receiving. He then turned toward the two white captives and asked them to state their business. John Winn took the role of spokesman and began to talk, telling of their harrowing experiences; how they were left without food, protection or shelter and, finally, about their half-starved wives, one of whom was going to have a baby. When he had finished his story, the old chief remained silent for a few moments, then suddenly asked, "Where squaws?" After being assured they would be treated well, John finally told where they had left the women.

The chief ordered John held as hostage while Jim Wilson was allowed to go with three Indian braves to find the hidden women. Finally the two women were found and taken back to the tribe. Jim Wilson had assured the women they would be all right, that the chief had promised them safe conduct. Through his interpreter, each was questioned separately and finally the chief was satisfied that they were victims of circumstance and that John had told him the truth. He then ordered his braves and the hostages to head for a camp that was being set up by the squaws and old men a short distance away.

Finally the proud old chief stood straight as an arrow, giving orders that all braves assemble. A short pow-wow was held between the chief and the elders of the tribe. Suddenly he addressed the whole group and the young braves left the group, returning shortly in their tribal war bonnets and wearing their war regalia. John and Jim turned to the young Indian who spoke a smattering of English and asked what was happening. They were told that the warriors had been given orders to overtake the wagon train, swoop down upon it and avenge the treatment that had been given their former members.

John and his wife and friends had not sought revenge. All they were seeking was a chance to live. Most of the people in the wagon train had taken no part in Emmett's mad scheme. Now many innocent people would lose their lives if John Winn and his little party were avenged.

The question now was how could they possibly avert this terrible happening? They quickly told the old chief through the interpreter that most of these people were innocent. They explained that these people were their blood brothers, but their supplications seemed to be falling on deaf ears as preparations were still being hurriedly made. Horses were being led to the rear of the group, one for each warrior. Only a few minutes remained before it would be too late to avert the tragedy. Suddenly Mary Jane threw herself at the old chiefs feet and, with hands clasped in front of her, cried, "Don't kill them! Don't kill them!" As the chief stood looking down upon Mary Jane, he seemed to understand the anguish in her noble heart. He suddenly reversed his decision and a great silence fell upon the group. The old chief held up his hand, palm forward and slowly walked away. John and Jim, their hearts filled with gratitude, started toward their wives, but the strain had been too great and Mary Jane crumpled to the ground. Before John could reach her, a young Indian squaw ran quickly to her side. Soon several Indian women were clustered around her. When next he saw his wife, she was lying on a bed of buffalo robes inside a small wickiup.

The kind treatment afforded this mother-to-be by the Indian women was remarkable. They seemed to be mother, friend and nursemaid to this poor pregnant girl. Jerky, parched corn and a delicious bouillon was provided the weary strangers. The two couples were finally together inside the small wickiup and, after eating the first meal they had eaten in several days, they relaxed upon the soft buffalo robes. Finally, in sheer exhaustion, they fell asleep. Morning seemed to come too soon, but the dawn of a new day found them greatly refreshed after a good night's sleep in a strange bed and surroundings.

When John threw back the flaps of the wicki-up and gazed out, he was amazed to find only the ashes of a burned-out fire. The Indians had gone. But where? How could they leave without being heard? John and Jim and their wives hadn't even been given a chance to truly thank their rescuers.

When John and Jim finally came face to face with reality, they walked out of the wicki-up into the small clearing. They were surprised to hear the neighing of a horse and hurried around the wicki-up to find three ponies tethered to a log. Lying a short distance away was an American pack saddle and, to the side of it, jerky, parched corn, a few potatoes and some pottery. As they looked at this array of simple gifts, lumps came to their throats and tears of gratitude welled up in their eyes. The old chief had not wanted a show of emotion, so had chosen to leave quietly while they slept.

When these young people realized that their ordeal was over, they hurriedly ate breakfast, thanking God for his kindness manifest through the great Indian chief. They then chose one pony to carry their belongings and lowered the small wicki-up to the ground, folded it neatly and placed it on the wooden pack saddle. They removed the buffalo robes from the ground where they had slept and nearby found a cap and ball rifle, a small hunting knife and a generous supply of caps, powder and shot. When the last of their new found possessions were securely packed and the hitch was cinched around the wooden pack saddle and its precious contents, the little group again uttered a prayer of gratitude, then the two women were helped on the gentle Indian ponies that were to carry them back to civilization.

At that time John Winn made a vow that he kept throughout his lifetime: he would help his Indian brothers whenever an occasion presented itself.

It must have been a strange sight to the inhabitants of Nauvoo as this group entered their fair city. Two men were walking in front leading two sure-footed ponies, while the pack-carrying pony trailed behind. Two young women were riding the ponies and in the arms of one of them was tenderly held a very young baby, Mary Jane's son and first child.

Mary Jane and John named their newborn son Minor. They stayed in Nauvoo until the Mormons were driven out by the fanatical mobs in 1846 and as soon as John was able to outfit himself with the necessary equipment and supplies, he crossed the Plains with a pioneer company, arriving in the Salt Lake Valley in 1852.

While they were in and around Winter Quarters, Mary Jane was privileged to have three more children, whose names were Patricia, James and Nettie Winn. The hard pioneer life and exposure proved too much for her, however, and she died while in that area. Alone and brokenhearted, with four small children to care for, John entered the valley with the pioneer company led by Captain Henry B. M. Jolley. John was to marry two more times. His second wife was Elizabeth Pugh and the third, Eliza Ann Stephenson Case.

James Wilson and his wife are listed as members of the Edward Martin company. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on November 30, 1856.

Captain Emmett was later disfellowshipped from the Church and his followers drifted back to the main body of the Church. - J. Harold Manning



Minor Winn (1798 - 1877)


Nancy Wilson Winn (1798 - 1884)



Elizabeth Carolyn Pugh Winn (1827 - 1905)


Julia Ann Akes Winn (1827 - 1853)


Eliza Ann Stephen Case Finch Winn (1834 - 1892)


Eliza Ann Stephenson Winn (1834 - 1892)



Lucretia Christine Winn Smith (1825 - 1872)


James Thomas Winn (1846 - 1907)


Minor Winn (1851 - 1903)


John McCaslin Winn (1854 - 1928)


Elizabeth Artinza Winn Waters (1856 - 1918)


Martha Jane Winn Nebeker (1858 - 1893)


Joseph Ephriam Winn (1859 - 1924)


Nancy Melinda Winn Winn (1861 - 1907)


Charles Alma Winn (1865 - 1932)


Sarah Isabell Winn Stephens (1865 - 1944)


Melissia Ann Winn Wilkinson (1867 - 1947)


Alice Eliza Winn Manning (1867 - 1941)


Francis Shannon Winn (1869 - 1929)


Marion Anderson Winn (1869 - 1951)


John William Winn (1870 - 1943)


Mary Elizabeth Winn Manning (1873 - 1963)


Benjamin Prior Winn (1875 - 1953)


Olive Caroline Winn Gee (1877 - 1965)



John Winn (1824 - 1899)


Dennis Wilson Winn (1826 - 1907)


Mary Winn Beckstead (1828 - 1864)


Thomas Green Winn (1830 - 1909)


Jane Winn Foster (1833 - 1911)


Alma Winn (1836 - 1903)

Created by: SMSmith

Record added: Mar 16, 2008

Find A Grave Memorial# 25316605

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John Winn's Timeline

January 29, 1824
Rockcreek, Bedford, Tennessee, USA
April 22, 1849
Age 25
Pottawattamie, IA, USA
March 7, 1857
Age 33
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah
February 10, 1858
Age 34
Alpine, Utah, Ut
October 4, 1862
Age 38
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah
January 19, 1865
Age 40
Richmond, Cache, Utah, USA
May 8, 1867
Age 43
Summit, Iron, Utah, USA
May 13, 1869
Age 45
Summit, Iron, Utah, USA
October 22, 1870
Age 46
Richfield, Sevier, Utah, USA
May 2, 1877
Age 53
Richfield, Sevier, Utah, USA